Is beetle-kill biofuel good for the climate?
Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation is a major motivation for producing biofuels, but the climate benefits of fuels derived from wood are controversial. Understanding how beetle-kill biofuelds affect the climate requires that we use lifecycle assessment techniques to understand the entire supply chain, including:
- the fuel and energy use in harvesting, transporting, and converting beetle-kill to fuels
- how the harvest of dead trees changes the amount of carbon stored in the forest in the short- and the long-term
- how the resulting biofuels substitute for and displace conventional fossil fuels
- the ability of the biochar co-product to store carbon
Knowing these details we can determine the conditions under which this biochar-producing bioenergy system could achieve carbon-negative performance.
BANR Research Teams Addressing this Question:
- The Biochar team (Task 3.2) is evaluating the full economic and GHG mitigation value of the biochar conversion co-product across a variety of agricultural, forestry, and environmental remediation applications.
- The Conversion Modeling team (Task 3.3) is estimating the yields and energy required to process beetle killed pine into fuels and biochar that can be used for sustainability assessment
- The Lifecycle Assessment team (Task 3.4) is determining the total GHG mitigation value of a beetle-kill to liquid fuels system considering supply chain lifecycle impacts, ecosystem responses to biomass harvest, and carbon sequestration in the biochar co-product